Lifestyle & wellness | { 6 MIN READ | 2018-07-20

Maybe you’re a new empty nester and your four-bedroom home suddenly seems way too big. Or perhaps you’re in a large condo and you’d be just as happy in a studio apartment. With the shift in thinking these days to “less is more”, it’s easy to see the benefits to living a little less large. We’ve got a few tips to help make the big transition to smaller digs more joyful and less stressful. 

Where to begin?

Little girl poking her grandfather's face

The thought of packing up all of your belongings can be really overwhelming, no matter how long you’ve lived in your home. We all accumulate stuff, and that stuff has a way of expanding over time. So when you’re thinking about downsizing you have to give a lot of thought to how you’ll create a comfortable, stylish new living space with limited room for “things”. First things first, you need a plan.

Plan ahead

mature couple working on a laptop

The experts at HGTV have lots of great tips to help you live comfortably in a cozier space, like making sure you plan ahead (we’re talking months in advance) so you don’t end up making last minute or hasty decisions. When you’re faced with purging personal items, it can get emotional and make it harder to part ways. It’s best to start planning your downsizing early on and set goals so when the big move day arrives you’re feeling ready and excited.

This article from Style at Home also has tons of tips to help you get organized, like using a colour-coded system to organize all of your boxes. They also have a really comprehensive list of 21 ways to make your move go as smoothly as possible, including how to prevent delays, protect your valuables and treat your movers. Oh right, and set up Internet and cable before you get there!

Plan some more

Mature people on a couch

It’s also a really good idea to take a look at your current furniture and the layout of your new space. Will that oversized couch fit in your living room? Do you need that dresser in the current spare room? It can also be helpful to call in a professional organizer who can give you an objective opinion and help you determine what to keep and what to sell or donate. Even if you spent a lot of money on a particular piece, it may not be right for your new home. 

Donate, sell, repurpose

Donation box filled with clothing

Just because some of your things won’t fit in your new space doesn’t mean they’re not perfect for someone else’s. This is a great opportunity to give back to your community, donate to a charity in need, or make a little bit of money toward new items you might need. There are all kinds of organizations that will come right to your home to pick up what you don’t need. Most importantly, don’t throw anything in the garbage! It may be tempting to pitch wire hangers or old clothes, but recycling is always your best option.

Here’s a short list of organizations that could always use donations: 

Canadian Diabetes Association

Children’s Book Bank

Furniture Bank

Habitat for Humanity

Value Village

Look for local charities in your area as well as sports teams that are fundraising. Here are just a few ideas from Senior Lifestyle of where to give:

Bring nice clothing, good shoes, hats and purses to a senior citizens’ residence.

Kitchen items can go to a local charity or be used to help people who are refugees or have lost things in a fire.

Food goes to a food bank or local shelter. Always check the expiry date. Some places have freezers and can accept good frozen food.

Unopened pet food, and kitty litter can be donated to the Humane Society or SPCA.

Craft supplies can go to a school, seniors’ center, retirement home or after school program.

Books can be donated to a “fundraiser” at a school, church, library or bank. 

DVD players are great for a veteran’s facility or group.

Tools can go to Habitat for Humanity or a trade school.

Newer computers can help underprivileged children.

Art books and supplies can go to an art school, a local school or after school program.

Musical instruments are great for schools. 

Cars, boats, motorcycles can be sold or donated for a tax receipt.

Wooden furniture can go to a trade school to be refinished.

Remember some places do give tax receipts. Ask what the guidelines are before you make the donation. 

And if some of your items are of higher value, consider going to an auction house like Sotheby’s or Sell My Stuff Canada. Many people are looking for unique or antique pieces and look to these organizations to source them.

Yard sale, anyone?

Yard sale

People love a deal, and what better way to say goodbye to some of your neighbours – and your things – than with a good old-fashioned yard sale? Make some lemonade, grab a P-Touch labeler and set yourself up for an afternoon of bartering. Not sure what the going rates should be? Lifehacker has you covered with this complete guide to selling your stuff for a sure-to-sell price. They’ve also got great tips to help you craft the perfect Craigslist ad if you decide to go that route instead.

Get creative

Rear view image of a mature woman using a laptop

Your new space will inevitably be smaller than the one you’re currently in, so now’s the time to get creative to help make the most of every nook and cranny. If you’ve ever seen an episode of Tiny House Hunters on HGTV, you can see that the saying, “when there’s a will, there’s a way” certainly rings true. While perhaps a bit extreme, there are tons of ingenious hacks from these wee homes that can help rethink your space and optimize every inch. Check out our post about all the interesting ways to put your stamp on a smaller space.

Gone but not forgotten

Grandmother reading to her grandson

Here’s the thing. Your emotional attachment to your current home is valid and sometimes it’s hard to let go. So why not take pictures or video of the parts that have deep meaning for you, so you can look back any time and reminisce? 

Enjoy the life less cluttered

Mature woman holding dogs and smiling

The real upside to downsizing? Enjoying a more curated life, surrounded by just the things you love and cherish. Living by “a place for everything and everything in its place”. And remembering that a home is just a shell – it’s the memories you take with you that are worth keeping.